Vortex Garden is a hillside garden situated in the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood of Palm Springs. Unlike many other properties in Palm Springs, this site is nestled into a hillside, presenting a unique opportunity to seamlessly blend the natural topography with the garden experience. In the initial stages of the design process, the client sketched a circle on a site survey, indicating the desire for a pool to serve as the focal point of the garden courtyard. This circle became the "center of gravity" for the design, guiding subsequent design decisions.
Stone walls and planting terraces radiate around the pool, intricately carved into the hillside. The layers of planting, pathways, and screening elements allow guests to navigate the hillside without the need for stairs. Cascading Corten steel screen walls not only form a physical and audible barrier from neighboring lots but also preserve unobstructed views toward the San Jacinto mountains.
Water walls, water features, an infinity-edge pool, and a spa contribute to the auditory ambiance of the garden, offering active sound dampening in the midst of the popular Vista Las Palmas neighborhood. The gentle, persistent ripple of the water echoes the serenity and atmosphere of a Japanese Garden within the confines of the desert hillside property.
The front yard features four salvaged and transplanted Olive trees that frame a gentle staircase skirted by retaining walls. Illuminated at night, the soft glow of the front staircase serves as a beacon for party guests, drawing inspiration from the visual language of a sun-soaked Tahquitz Canyon, located a few miles west of the Old Las Palmas site.
The planting palette seamlessly blends low-water, low-maintenance native plants with a thoughtfully selected array of Mediterranean plants, evoking the essence of an oasis in the desert. Capitalizing on the hillside's unique solar orientation, the planting design strategically places plants of varying shade tolerance into hillside pockets, ensuring plant longevity and diversity while embracing a variety of different species.